War against cancer has more than one target in the Washington Post gives an overview. Cancer is more complicated than we thought. Dr. David Gorski gives a more detailed look into the problem in The complexity of cancer: a science based view.
Dr. Gorski's article gives an overview of some of the talks at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). At times Dr. Gorski gets into technical details but don't let that deter you. There are a few take home lessons. One is how complex the problems really are. There aren't necessarily simple and easy answers. He specifically points out the difference between science's approach to the problem and the easy (and wrong) answers given by quacks and practitioners of unscientific medicine. So much of what's peddled as miracle treatments and simple approaches is just plain wrong. What may sound good at first may not actually make much sense when looked at in detail. For example he writes:
Dr. Coussens’ talk is fascinating for what it revealed about the immune system and cancer. How many times have you heard “alternative medicine” believers and promoters brag that this nostrum or that potion “boosts the immune system”? As we’ve said before here, it’s a meaningless claim, because sometimes boosting the immune system is bad, as in autoimmune diseases. In cancer, it’s long been known that inflammation, particularly chronic inflammation, can lead to cancer.There has been great advances in cancer treatment over the last 40 years. Our understanding of cancer has grown as well. For all the advances and new knowledge it now looks like the war on cancer will not be over soon.